'I'm gutted': Australian TV host's plea for unity goes viral after terror attacks
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, March 15, 2019 11:59AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 15, 2019 1:08PM EDT
A prominent Australian television host’s impassioned plea for unity has gone viral in the aftermath of the tragic mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 49 people dead.
Waleed Aly, co-host of Network Ten’s current affairs program The Project, reflected on the attacks in an emotional speech broadcast on the show Friday evening.
In his delivery, Aly said he didn’t want to speak publicly about the shootings, but he felt that he had an “overwhelming sense” that it was his responsibility to do so.
“Of all the things that I could say tonight, that I’m gutted and I’m scared and I feel overcome out of hopelessness, the most dishonest thing would be to say that I’m shocked. I’m simply not. There is nothing about what happened in Christchurch today that shocks me,” he said, his voice cracking.
The television host went on to say that he also wasn’t shocked when six people were shot to death in a Quebec City mosque two years ago or when a man drove a van into a mosque in London six months later. He also said he wasn’t shocked when 11 Jewish people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue last year or when nine Christians were murdered in a church in Charleston in 2015.
“If we’re honest, we all know this has been coming,” he said.
A devout Muslim himself, Aly said he attended Friday prayers at his local mosque just like the worshippers in Christchurch had done that day.
“I know exactly what those moments before the shooting began would have been like. I know how quiet, how still, how introspective those people would have been before they were suddenly gunned down,” he said.
Aly remarked that the attackers knew, too, how defenseless their victims would have been in that moment.
“This is a congregational prayer that happens every week like clockwork. This was slaughter by appointment,” he said. “And it’s scary because like millions of other Muslims, I’m going to keep attending those appointments and it feels like fish in a barrel.”
The Project host also took the opportunity to denounce far-right Australian senator Fraser Anning who blamed the shootings on New Zealand’s immigration program, which “allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate in the first place.”
Anning’s comments were quickly condemned by other Australian politicians, including the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison.
Aly also took aim at other controversial comments made about Muslim migrants to Australia by other Australian political parties in the past, including one allegedly made by Morrison himself eight years ago.
The Project Host wrapped up his speech by asking the prime minister and other politicians to take action to address the problem of terrorism.
Aly’s powerful final parting words were directed at the public, more generally.
“Now, we come together. Now we understand that this is not a game. Terrorism doesn’t choose its victims selectively,” he said.
“That we are one community and that everything we say to try to tear people apart, demonize particular groups, set them against each other, that all has consequences even if we’re not the ones with our fingers on the trigger.”